Asheville Rocked for Roe!

by Kelli Early, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at UNC Asheville

Roe v. Wade turned 45 this year, and with its anniversary brings celebration of its precedents that allow people greater bodily autonomy, but also the reality that Roe’s mission is under attack.

This is no surprise to North Carolinians.  Since Roe, North Carolina has been a testing ground for national anti-choice legislation.  While reproductive advocates successfully defeated a recent proposed federal 20-week abortion, sadly, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a 20-week ban in North Carolina in 1973, the same year that Roe v. Wade was decided.  These early attacks on abortion access in North Carolina were followed with abstinence-only-until-marriage education, which a recent government evaluation found has no effect on teen behavior.

And since the 1970s, organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina have defended North Carolinians’ abortion access in the courtroom, the streets, and in intimate spaces like clinics or classrooms where the impacts of these oppressions are felt.

Stigma and shame are prevalent social effects of criminalizing abortion and sexuality.  Rock for RoeThat’s why this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, NARAL Pro-Choice NC hosted the 2nd Annual Rock for Roe benefit show to dance, celebrate, and raise funds to continue our defense of reproductive rights.

The evening included a raffle of wonderful prizes, ranging from concert tickets at the Orange Peel to a YWCA membership, procured with the help of Development Director Toni Curry and Board Member Monroe Gilmour.  The audience was treated with live music by Big Sound Harbor, a local band in Asheville who became experts at raffling our prizes and fundraising another year of resistance!

Big Sound Harbor Rock for Roe Aville Jan 22 2018

Dulci, Big Sound Harbor lead singer, fabulously calling raffle prize winning tickets

While attendees walked between tables of prizes, NARAL Pro Choice NC’s Advocacy and Organizing Manager Lynne Walter offered people buttons, stickers, and literature as tools to spread knowledge about reproductive advocacy in North Carolina.  Participants were able to sign a petition against additional 20-week abortion bans and encouraged to take action after the event.

It is vital that community members on a local and state level come together to share stories, challenges, and kinship to sustain our movement for reproductive freedom, because, ultimately, we are fighting for each other’s lives.  Since 1 in 4 U.S. women will have an abortion in her lifetime, the work of NARAL Pro-Choice NC and all other reproductive justice organizations must continue so that North Carolina’s dark history of sexism, racism, and homophobia don’t become our future!

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Roe v. Wade Celebration Week at Davidson College!

by Kristen Sands, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at Davidson College

Hello from Davidson, North Carolina, Kristen Sands here!  To celebrate 45 years of Roe v. Wade, I worked with Planned Parenthood Generation Action campus representatives Caroline Roddey and Emma Granowsky as well as student leaders of the Health Justice Committee Jennie Goodell and Lily Acton, to develop a week of fabulous events sponsored by Shout Your Abortion!  We had the best time getting members of our community together to celebrate the 45th anniversary of abortion legality, learn more about reproductive justice, and come #TogetherForAbortion.

Tatianna runs the thank you card booth for students to send a note of thanks

Tatianna runs the booth for students to send a note to abortion providers and pro-choice advocates in honor of Roe v. Wade!

We kicked off the week with an educational lunch event covering the history of Roe v. Wade, its current place in this political atmosphere and why legality does not mean access.  We discussed barriers to reproductive healthcare that exist for Women of Color, queer and trans folk and other marginalized communities, discussed attacks on Roe, and talked to students about what they could do to support abortion access.

On Wednesday, we took over campus trivia night to ask our fellow students some questions on Roe v. Wade and abortion designed to bust some myths and raise awareness about North Carolina’s abortion laws.  For example, we asked “Does abortion put you at risk for… A) Breast Cancer, B) Chronic Depression, C) Infertility, or D) None of the above?” in order to educate the group that women who get abortions are no more likely to develop depression than women who carry a pregnancy to term, and there is no correlation between breast cancer or infertility and having had an abortion!

Bridget enjoying Shout Your Abortion swag at campus trivia night!

Bridget enjoying Shout Your Abortion swag at campus trivia night!

On Thursday, we were incredibly fortunate to have a number of powerful activists take the time to join us for a panel discussion on Reproductive Justice.  Our professionals in the field were Tara Romano, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, Calla Hales, Director of Administrative Services of A Preferred Women’s Health Center, and Ash Williams, North Carolina Organizer from SisterSong.  Tara, Calla, and Ash built an amazing discussion, helping us understand what Reproductive Justice means, how we can contribute to this work, and how we can center patients and providers in our conversations and activism related to reproductive freedom.

Crowd of students enjoying discussion led by panelists

Students enjoying a discussion led by Ash Williams of Sister Song, Tara Romano of NARAL Pro-Choice NC, and Calla Hales of A Preferred Women’s Health Choice.

 

Ash Williams, Tara Romano and Calla Hales crafting an impactful discussion on reproductive justice and opportunities for student activism.

Ash Williams, Sister Song, Tara Romano, NARAL Pro-Choice NC, and Calla Hales, A Preferred Women’s Health Choice.

On Friday, we had a booth open all day for students to write notes of thanks to all the hardworking people who make abortion access possible.  Students loved taking advantage of the opportunity to send a note of gratitude to abortion providers, activists, clinic escorts, and advocacy groups.

Our amazing thank-you notes designed by student Jennie and awesome swag from Shout Your Abortion

Our amazing thank you notes designed by student Jennie and awesome swag from Shout Your Abortion.

Lucy sends a note of thanks

Lucy sends a note of thanks.

The Roe v. Wade Celebration week at Davidson was a huge success and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to bring education, gratitude, and celebration in honor of the 45th anniversary onto my campus.  Our events were well attended by faculty and students alike, and we loved the opportunity to engage in discussions about Reproductive Justice and abortion access, to celebrate the progress that has been made, and to prepare to tackle the challenges that remain.  Thank you NARAL Pro-Choice NC and Shout Your Abortion for making this week possible!

Our amazing thank-you notes designed by student Jennie and awesome swag from Shout Your Abortion 2

Celebrating 45 years of Roe v. Wade!

Chalking for Roe: How Small Acts of Engagement Make a Difference

by Angelina Kianka and Esther Fiore, 2018 Campus Leaders at UNCW

In honor of the 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Esther and I chalked UNCW’s campus to promote awareness.  We wrote dozens of pro-choice messages in areas that see the highest foot traffic, such as in front of Randall Library and in the common areas by the Student Center.  Our messages included “Our Bodies, Our Choice,” “Celebrating 45 Years of Roe v. Wade,” and “Keep Your Laws Off My Body #45YearsOfRoe.”  We chalked on a Sunday evening to ensure that we would have minimal disruptions, and because the anniversary happened to fall on a Monday.

UNCW Roe chalking 2018 1

In my classes on Monday, I overheard students talking about the chalk messages and even walked by some students taking photos of the messages.  The chalking also garnered the attention of the Women’s Studies Resource Center.  I went to their office to pick up some NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina swag, and the women at the office expressed their appreciation for our pro-choice efforts.  Chalking is an eye-catching, inexpensive way to communicate an idea while facilitating the opportunity for dialogue.  There’s no denying that it got students and faculty chatting, and it was a great way to kick off the semester!

UNCW Roe chalking 2018 2

Later in the week, Esther and I attended a #MeToo panel.  We distributed NARAL Pro-Choice NC materials and collected names of students interested in joining the Feminist Student Alliance.  I’m thrilled to see UNCW supporting efforts to discuss sexual harassment and assault, and the panel has inspired us to capitalize on the momentum of the #MeToo movement and plan some events surrounding sexual assault awareness.  The panel was even featured on a local news station—here’s a link of the segment!

January has taught us that a little can go a long way when it comes to activism.  Igniting awareness on the campus community is crucial.  We’ve got some ambitious ideas for the upcoming months, and we’re excited to see the impact we’ll have within our community.  Stay tuned!

UNCW Roe chalking 2018 3

NARAL Pro-Choice NC Celebrates 45 Years of Roe v. Wade!

by Caitlin Oliver, NARAL Pro-Choice NC Bachelor Of Social Work intern

Barely one week after the 45th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Senate Republicans tried and failed, yet again, to pass a nationwide 20-week abortion ban.  This recent intensified attack on an individual’s bodily autonomy is yet another reminder of the importance of remembering what abortions were like before Roe v. Wade.

On January 23, 2018, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina celebrated the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at The Pinhook with a screening of videos of different abortion stories that featured various women who had abortions before and/or after Roe v. WadeThe PinhookAdditionally, there was a panel discussion with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina’s Executive Director, Tara Romano, and its Advocacy and Organizing Manager, Lynne Walter.

The abortion stories, produced by Moyers & Company, served as needed reminders of past and present barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care.  For example, one woman spoke of having to leave her home state of Texas in order to receive abortion care because of recent TRAP laws that had closed many Texas clinics.  All of the women in the videos expressed fear that the U.S. will one day return to a time in which abortion is no longer safe and legal.

Since Roe v. Wade, there have been many local, state, and national efforts to restrict abortion.  The January 29th, 2018, vote on a 20-week ban is just one of the latest attempts.  Another example is the federal Hyde Amendment, which was first passed by Congress on September 30, 1976, and impedes access to reproductive health care by blocking insurance providers, like Medicaid, from covering abortions.  In North Carolina, the Hyde Amendment has been used to justify denying insurance coverage of abortion for many North Carolinians, including teachers, members of the military, veterans, Peace Corps volunteers, Native Americans that utilize the Indian Health Service, people who are incarcerated in federal prisons, North Carolinians who have their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and all federal, state, county, and city employees in North Carolina.

The Hyde Amendment disproportionately restricts access to abortion for people of lower income, people of color, young people, immigrants and those who are undocumented, and transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.  Ultimately, this threat to comprehensive reproductive health care highlights the reality that economic justice, racial justice, immigrant rights, and LGBTQ+ equality are all key aspects of reproductive justice, as well as vital components of the overall health of the Durham community.

At the end of the event, participants were encouraged to take action against efforts to restrict abortion access in their local communities!Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 2.47.39 PM

Hyde Amendment Week of Action at Davidson College

by Kristen Sands, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at Davidson College

Hello again from Davidson College, North Carolina!  During November, our on-campus student activists were hard at work generating thoughtful conversation about reproductive justice.

Kristen Hyde event Nov 2017 1

On Thursday, three of my fellow students and I hosted an educational luncheon event covering the Hyde Amendment as part of All* Above All’s November week of action.  We presented information on the history of the Hyde Amendment and the barrier it poses to abortion access, encouraging our audience to consider how this is an economic justice issue as it allows the government to deny people of lower income abortion coverage as part of their health insurance programs.

To illustrate the true impact of the Hyde Amendment, we discussed how 1 in 6 women of reproductive age in the United States are Medicaid recipients, and to understand the disproportionate effect that Hyde has on Women of Color we broke down to the group that 30% of these women are black and 24% are Latina/Hispanic.  We discussed other populations subject to the Hyde Amendment, including Native American women enrolled in federal health insurance plans, women in federal prisons and detained undocumented immigrants.  To get an idea of the individual experience of the Hyde Amendment, we discussed Jane Doe, the 17-year-old immigrant from Central America who made the decision to have an abortion but was blocked by the Office of Refugee Resettlement from receiving the procedure for over a month.  The ACLU worked tirelessly on her behalf, and ultimately after weeks of litigation they obtained a court order requiring the government to immediately permit her access to an abortion.

Kristen Hyde event Nov 2017 2

Moving forward to educate students about what they could do, we spoke about All* Above All and NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina’s efforts to repeal of the Hyde Amendment and encouraged students to educate themselves, follow these organizations, and help raise awareness.  Students were excited to hear that activism on a local and state level could make a difference, as municipalities can pass resolutions standing up to the discrimination of the Hyde Amendment and states can decide to fund medically necessary abortions through their own Medicaid programs.  Finally, we encouraged students to consider a candidate’s stance on the Hyde amendment when deciding which candidate they will support.  Even if a candidate or elected official is pro-choice, if they are not pro-coverage, we want to keep this in mind in our activism and voice that this is an issue that matters to us!  Many students who attended our educational event didn’t know a lot about the Hyde Amendment, which made me feel even stronger that this kind of outreach and education is so important!  Following the event, students were eager to sign All* Above All’s “Justice Pledge” and felt empowered by their new understanding.

Kristen Hyde event Nov 2017 3

 

Next, on Sunday evening I collaborated with the Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapter at Davidson for an abortion storytelling event titled “#IDefy.”  The goal of the event was to break down abortion stigma and promote empowerment, awareness, and empathy.  Before sharing abortion stories, we went through some facts on abortion procedures, covering the differences between basics of medication abortion and surgical abortion.  This was to bust any myths in the audience and give a Davidson I Defy speak out Nov 2017brief but practical sense of what we would actually be talking about.  We then introduced the 1 in 3 Campaign led by Advocates for Youth as well as Planned Parenthood’s #IDefy campaign, both of which inspired this event. The central purpose of the event was to share abortion stories, some from our campus and some from the 1 in 3 collection of stories.  Hearing the experiences of real women from our Davidson community and beyond was deeply powerful.  Re-centering the conversation on abortion back to the patient was revitalizing and a meaningful reminder of the humanity behind this unfortunately politicized issue.  To close the evening, we heard from our campus Health Educator, Georgia Ringle, who is a wonderful pro-choice advocate on campus and has supported many women at Davidson throughout their decisions about abortion.  She spoke about her personal goals to combat shame and stigma on our campus and her availability as a confidential and judgement-free resource.  I was thankful to hear from many students that they left this event feeling thankful for the bravery of their peers who were willing to share their stories and inspired by the compassion of the group.

Thank you again NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and also All* Above All for giving me the resources to bring this essential education to my campus!